Bob Enyart of the Denver Bible Church is a proponent of both Open Theism and Bible-based Christian teachings. But to me and my admittedly incomplete understanding of both, “Bible Church” and “Open Theism” seem to be at odds with each other.
I mean, doesn’t the Bible teach that God is all powerful and all knowing? Doesn’t that mean that He knows what we’re going to do every step of the way? And if that’s the case, how can an ‘Open ended’ future – a future where God doesn’t know what an individual may or may not do – then be in agreement with predestination where everything has already been decided?"
But Bob’s pastorship of a “Bible Church” and his writings on Open Theism argue he has found a way to marry the two.
“How can he do that?” I wondered.
Thus, with a business trip to Denver that included a Sunday morning, the opportunity was before me to try and find out.
Denver Bible Church is small and has no building of its own. The congregation meets in the gymnasium of a Christian school, the Maranatha Christian Center, 72nd and Oak, in Arvada Colorado, a northwest suburb of Denver. There were about 50 in attendance the Sunday I visited and we sat on folding chairs for the 10:50AM service.
Pastor Bob’s sermon series on Matthew was up to chapter 21 on this Sunday. Among other things, this is the chapter where, in verses 12-13, Christ “cleans the temple” by throwing out the vendors. And later, in verses 18-19, He curses a fig tree which immediately withers and dies.
To my thinking, these two incidents are at odds with the traditional picture of Jesus as the meek and peaceful healer, preaching to the multitudes and performing miracles with fish and loaves of bread.
But in the first of these incidents, He violently wrecks the tables and benches of vendors seeking profit from those who would come to worship. He throws them out of the temple!
And worse, in the second incident He kills a tree!
This is not the Christ I learned as a child.
These are passionate, even violent, acts!
“May you never bear fruit again,” are the words in the 19th verse in the New International Version.
“Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever,” is how the King James version puts it.
And even The Message translates it as “No more figs from this tree!”
(Bible Gateway may be a useful web-based resource for such comparisons.)
In these incidents, Christ is active – violently so.
He is forcing change.
He is an active agent, causing things to happen. He is not passive, not waiting, not accepting the status quo.
And to my thinking, this is the heart of what God expects from us.
He expects us to act. To do. To create change.
Open Theism says the future is not written. Instead, it is up to us.
Today, there are limits to what I can accomplish. In politics, it is unlikely that I can, single-handedly, turn around the horrific national debt our misguided leaders are saddling us with for generations to come.
But I can, through my words and actions, demonstrate my own fiscal responsibility, vote for those who say they will do the same, and then monitor their actions and through letters and emails, hold them accountable to their word.
In Christ’s time, He didn’t have those options, nor did He fight that fight. He chose a different battle.
But He went and took action.
And in so doing, He changed the future.
He took action. He opened His mouth and challenged the status quo. He used His hands to overturn the tables and benches in the temple and I dare say His Aramaic words were laced with passion that day.
He made history, but not by sitting back and waiting.
He spoke, He moved, He did.
The future was not pre-written. Instead, He made the future.
Today, we make the future, you and me.
We can speak. We can act. We can do things to cause change.
And remember that if you don’t, someone else will.
It’s your life. God gave it to you. How will you use it?
Thanks, Bob, for bringing Christ – a very different Christ – back into my life.
Tomorrow is a new day and, through my work, I will come into contact with others. I pray the Lord will help me see the possibilities that are open before me, and to help me find the energy and the wherewithal to act on them.